Society must feel secure – President
President George Abela yesterday called on the Courts to keep a just balance between the rights of the accused and the general interest to protect society.
Speaking on the occasion of Republic Day, during which honours were bestowed on 17 distinguished persons who have contributed to the country, he said “it is necessary that the feeling of security society enjoys should not be threatened by a few unscrupulous elements, who care for nothing, not even human life, as long as they attain their illicit purposes”.
Dr Abela encouraged all those who could help to cooperate with the forces of order so society would continue to be protected.
Referring to Parliament, he said it was vital that decisions about its workings and committees should always ensure they continue to function in the best possible way.
“It is, therefore, my wish to see each parliamentary committee, set up with useful and precise aims, to continue carrying out its tasks,” he said.
He also noted that his proposal last year to set up a Council of State had not been established even though it had met the approval of politicians of different opinions.
Dr Abela reiterated his availability to play a part for the council to materialise and begin its work.
Referring to the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, the President expressed his concern that a section of society seemed unable to emerge from the dire straits of poverty or the risk of falling below the poverty line, and that the number of those finding it difficult to make ends meet was increasing.
“It is possible that the gap between those who are in the higher income bracket and those whose income does not reach adequate levels is widening,” he observed, adding that “we need to commit ourselves to find practical solutions.
“We need to discover why a section of the population is lagging behind and why some of our youths are not availing themselves of the existing educational facilities, one of the determining factors that can make a difference.
“I feel we have not yet found the way to effectively fight the phenomenon of the low-income population, concentrated around the Grand Harbour area, which is more prone to social problems and lacking a sufficient level of education,” Dr Abela said.
Financial assistance was not the only way to help families but other forms of aid could be offered, including training on how to better utilise income and how to develop interpersonal relations that strengthen ties between family members, strong families being the backbone of society.
Although the effects of the financial crisis were contained in Malta, Dr Abela said the country must remain vigilant in the hope that the situation would continue to improve.
The priorities of society should be identified in accordance with the financial means at its disposal and in conformity with the value of social solidarity, he said.
Dr Abela appealed to protect more assiduously the country’s natural, ecological and geological heritage. Though much has been done to protect the environment, more work remained, he said, highlighting the moral obligation to exercise caution when it came to putting to economic profit the country’s limited natural resources.
Yesterday’s investiture ceremony in the Grand Council Hall of the President’s Palace in Valletta paid tribute to those who distinguished themselves in different fields by appointing them to The National Order of Merit, or the ġieħ ir-Repubblika, also referred to as Xirka, or by awarding them the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.
During the ceremony, one companion, one officer, two honorary members and five members were appointed to The National Order of Merit and eight individuals were awarded the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.
The former Economic Services Minister, Prof. Josef Bonnici, was made a Companion of The National Order of Merit, while history professor Henry French was appointed Officer.
Honorary Membership was conferred on Joseph Khoury, vice-president and general manager of the European Division of Methode Electronics, and David Walsh, CEO and founder of IT company Crimsonwing.
The new members of The National Order of Merit are Victor Calvagna, a consultant paediatric oncologist, who is also known for his work for Puttinu Cares Foundation; former broadcaster and diplomat John Manduca; Tonio Portughese, who was described as being instrumental in spearheading a national consensus approach to the crucial talks between the government and STMicroelectronics; former Commissioner for Children Carmen Zammit; and Major Peter Ripard, the traffic expert who lost a leg in the recent Transport Malta explosion, and who received the honour in absentia.
The Medal for Service to the Republic was awarded to former GWU official Vincent Esposito; Carmel Fenech, one of the founding members of the German-Maltese Circle; artist George Fenech; musician Maryann Kissaun; former nurse Mary Magri, who helped set up diabetic clinics; actor Mario Micallef; broadcaster Alvin Scicluna; and Cecilia Xuereb, music critic, former president of the National Council of Women and chair of the Manoel Theatre Management Committee.
The investiture ceremony was the culmination of a process that started with a public call for nominations in September.
The event immediately followed the customary ceremonial parade by the Armed Forces of Malta in St George’s Square, which was inspected by the President.